Will Pope Benedict Retire?

Just more to muse about.

No matter how long this pope may live, the popular pastime of guessing the next pope—naming the papabili—is already well under way in many Roman corners. But this pope wouldn’t necessarily have to pass away to set the wheels in motion. He could retire. When he headed the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, he tried to retire twice “due to poor health,” but his predecessor John Paul II refused to let him go. He acknowledged in a biography co-written with German journalist Peter Seewald that he saw nothing wrong with retiring from the papacy: “If a pope clearly realizes that he is no longer physically, psychologically and spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office, then he has a right and, under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign.”

Prominent Italian Vatican journalist Antonio Socci fueled further panic last month when he wrote in Libero newspaper that this pope could call it quits next spring. “For now, he [Joseph Ratzinger’s personal assumption], is saying that this may be true but I hope the story does not reach the news,” Socci wrote. “But this rumor is circulating high up in the Vatican and therefore deserves close attention. The pope has not rejected the possibility of his resignation when he turns 85 in April next year.”

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